IT’S BEEN SUCH A MEM­O­RABLE SUM­MER!

Now it’s over I can look back on the many high­lights of the sea­son so far

Angling Times (UK) - - YOUR FISHING WEEK -

WIN­TER is com­ing! How do I know? Be­cause I am wear­ing my hoodie, my bot­tle of squash has been re­placed by a flask of cof­fee and the heater is on in the car!

It’s been a truly mem­o­rable sum­mer. I have caught 2lb roach and 5lb chub from rivers and still­wa­ters, dou­ble-fig­ure bar­bel and a belt­ing eel of 6lb-plus that won me a Dren­nan weekly award. A 6lb eel is the fish of a life­time!

My guid­ing days have been in­cred­i­ble, with eight dou­ble­fig­ure bar­bel, nine 5lb-plus chub and two over 6lb, all from the Mid­dle Sev­ern. Most of these fish are per­sonal bests for the an­glers con­cerned, which makes it even more sat­is­fy­ing.

And what about the wildlife? I have seen a mink hunt­ing a squir­rel, wa­ter rails, pere­grines, mer­lins, two king­fish­ers at a time, a pair of Dart­ford war­blers and lots more, but the high­light of the sum­mer by far was see­ing a fully grown cor­morant fly­ing down the river with a huge fe­male goshawk in hot pur­suit, its beak inches from the cor­morant’s tail.

I will never see that again – it was one of those once-in-a-life­time mo­ments which I feel hum­bled to have wit­nessed.

So how did this week go?

THURS­DAY

A talk at War­wick for the Shake­speare re­gion of the Pike An­glers Club. It was well at­tended and I have to say I was on top form – hope­fully the lads en­joyed it as much as I did. I talked about all preda­tors, from perch to great whites, as well as pike of course! A great night, and thank you all for treat­ing me so well. I am glad the PAC is still alive and kick­ing. A few years ago it hit trou­bled wa­ters, but that’s all wa­ter un­der the bridge and that’s good news for pike fish­ing. As an all-rounder it’s a great hon­our to be asked by so many spe­cial­ist groups to talk to them. It can be nerve-rack­ing, though, even when you have been at it for as many years as I have.

FRI­DAY

Float­fish­ing on the River Stour near Kidderminster, and I en­joyed it im­mensely. This lit­tle river has been full of fish for a few years now, which is a mir­a­cle in it­self – just 40 years ago it was an open sewer with very lit­tle fish life.

Now all the river species ex­cept grayling are in there and do­ing really well. I caught dace, chub and brown trout, noth­ing over 8oz but I wanted to blow the cob­webs away in readi­ness for a few trips I have on the River Test next month, and I am glad I did!

In the first hour I was very rusty and my float con­trol was well short of the mark, with a lot of missed bites.

Soon enough, though, I was into the swing of it and it’ll take me only an­other cou­ple of ses­sions be­fore I will be ready for the mon­sters of the Test.

SATUR­DAY

Took two great guys guid­ing for bar­bel on the Sev­ern – sea­soned all-rounder John Chester and Ray Brown who, along with Tony Miles, was the founder of the fa­mous Coven­try Spec­i­men Group and later the Coven­try Cir­cus.

John had caught bar­bel years ago but had for­got­ten how hard they pulled, and Ray had never had one in his life. They both caught bar­bel, and the smile on Ray’s face when he landed his first was

a pic­ture. It was only a small fish – Ray in his Coven­try Cir­cus days had prob­a­bly used big­ger live­baits – but it mat­tered not, and we were all chuffed for him.

On that evening, feel­ing to­tally shat­tered (I am 65 you know), I trav­elled down to Worces­ter for an af­ter-dinner speech for the Bar­bel So­ci­ety lads. Thank­fully tackle dealer Adam Sher­iff gave me a lift down there in his truck.

Again the guys were so kind and it ended up a great night, with the so­ci­ety making a few bob to­wards the bar­bel re­search project on the River Teme. Glad I could be of help, and thanks again for the gal­lon of ‘black stuff’!

MON­DAY

An­other ‘bar­bel vir­gin’ in the shape of Richard Hill. I took him to the Row­ley wa­ters on the Sev­ern at Coal­port and again they pro­duced the goods with a cou­ple of fish to 9lb 6oz. It was slow fish­ing af­ter a cold morn­ing. The mist didn’t clear un­til midday but Richard was over the moon with his big bar­bel. Let’s not get car­ried away with those pic­tures of 18-pounders. They are not the norm for the av­er­age guy, for whom a 9lb bar­bel is a gi­ant!

WED­NES­DAY

Trav­elled to Can­nock for the Nash trade show. I was well im­pressed! Kevin Nash is a crafty old chief but he has sur­rounded him­self with a team of war­riors sec­ond to none. I can’t wait to use this gear in the com­ing months. It’s nice that not ev­ery com­pany is go­ing down the ‘cheap and cheer­ful’ route!

A 9lb 6oz bar­bel for Richard Hill, an­other happy an­gler from my guid­ing trips. It was great to bank a 6lb-plus eel, the sec­ond of my ca­reer.

Leg­endary spec­i­men hunter Ray Brown with his first-ever bar­bel. Small, but who cares? “My belt­ing eel of 6lb-plus won me a Dren­nan weekly award”

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